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Monthly Health Topics

Celebrating the 'Heart' of Black History Month

By George Hulse, Vice President of External Affairs, Healthfirst
During Black History Month, we celebrate the rich history of African Americans and the history of the African diaspora. This commemorative month, honored annually since 1976, began as Negro History Week in 1926.
This month, I want to commemorate the rich culture of African Americans throughout New York City by talking about a vital issue for our community—our health!
February just so happens to be American Heart Month,too, and the first Friday of February is National Wear Red Day to call attention to heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women. It is a month when we celebrate the men and women who are taking action to protect their hearts and spread awareness about this disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African Americans in the United States, and in 2008 almost 25 percent of all African American deaths were caused by heart disease. On average, the rates of premature death from coronary heart disease are higher among African Americans than among whites.
So, what can we all do to prevent heart disease? Men older than 35 and women older than 40 need to check and maintain appropriate cholesterol levels, glucose levels, and blood pressure levels. Make an appointment to see your doctor for a checkup today.
It’s also important to maintain a healthy diet and a normal body weight for your age, sex, and height. Reduce your sodium intake to help lower blood pressure and the risk of heart attack and stroke. Also, incorporate moderate to intense exercise about 30 minutes a day, five times a week.
If you smoke, you have to quit. Please seek out a smoking cessation program at your nearby hospital to help you quit.
Heart disease is thoroughly preventable if you take good care of yourself. Honor Black History Month and American Heart Month this February by taking some time out to explore and celebrate African American achievements and improve your heart health.
George Hulse is Vice President of External Affairs at Healthfirst. For more tips on leading a healthier lifestyle, visit the Healthfirst website at www.healthfirst.org

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